A holistic approach to keep college debt free   
By YuMin Ye

COLUMBIA, 11/14/12 (Profile) -- Student housing pioneer Dan Hagan has a $64,000,000 answer to a $64,000 question virtually every student faces:  how to afford college tuition and graduate debt free.

With Broadway Village, Forest Village, and Woodlake Apartments, Hagan built one of Columbia's largest student apartment portfolios -- nearly 800 units.  Through the Hagan Scholarship Foundation -- worth an estimated $64,068,000 at the end of last year -- he gives back to the young people who helped make him one of Columbia's most successful businessmen.   His foundation will award 150 scholarships this year.

Open to high school students in small towns or rural communities in one of six states -- Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma or Arkansas -- Hagan Scholarships provide up to $5,000 per semester at the college of a recipient's choice.
Hagan Scholars have attended the University of Missouri-Columbia; Evangel University; William Jewel College; Maryville University, University of Missouri-Kansas City, University of Arkansas, Columbia College, Westminster College, Baylor University, Purdue University and Saint Louis University.   Scholarship recipients study everything from public relations and elementary education to medicine and engineering.  
"The cost of my college education per year exceeds my family's yearly income by more than one thousand dollars," said Hagan Scholar Stevie Winingear from Humansville, Missouri.   Studying for a Bachelor of Science in biology at Mizzou, Winingear hopes to attend medical school, so keeping her grades up is paramount.   "There is much less financial stress on me because of my scholarship money, leaving me with a much better environment in which to study," she said. 
Hagan maintains a low profile and declined to be interviewed for this story.  Better known in Columbia as the man who owns the vacant corner lot on Providence and Broadway, he attended public schools in three rural Missouri counties -- Sullivan, Carroll, and Howard -- and put himself through college without debt.  

But the cost of a degree has so vastly outpaced inflation that now debt seems part of the deal.  To eliminate it, Hagan's foundation takes a holistic approach, combining skills training with scholarship funds.

Along with a minimum 3.5 GPA, 23 ACT score, and 240 hours of summer work, Hagan Scholars must attend two summer workshops that cover life skills students do not typically learn inside the classroom.   The first year workshop addresses money management, time and study strategies.  The second year workshop addresses investing for financial security.
Ongoing interaction with the Hagan Scholarship Foundation -- which starts when prospective Hagan Scholars first interview with three-member panels -- helps with another life skill: relationship-building.
"When I came to Columbia for my interview, and later for the recipient seminars, I discovered that the scholarship board is full of genuine, friendly, and helpful people -- especially Dan Hagan," Winingear told the Heart Beat.   For their help, "I will forever be grateful."

The Hagan Scholarship Foundation

YuMin Ye is the author of Oil in the Wok, an Honorable Mention novel in the St. Louis Publishers Association Get Ready/Get Published Contest.   She is the St. Louis book reviewer for Examiner.com, and currently resides in Columbia, Missouri.   She hopes to change the world one story at a time.   Follow her on Twitter: @wasabixgurl.